Despite the store's international reputation of stocking hard-to-find country music, the place has the feel of a small neighborhood record store. Jim Stintson, the friendly store manager, is always ready to talk music. Legendary country music is his specialty.
There isn't much slick merchandising here; the racks of CDs, records, cassettes, and video tapes are full of products by artists from the obscure to the famous. A small altar near the front door of the shop honors Tubb for his nearly six decades of making music.
Ernest Tubb was born in 1914 on a farm outside of Crisp, texas, about 35 miles south of Dallas. When he was 13 years old, he heard Jimmie Rodgers on the radio singing "T for Texas" and knew he had to be in the music business.
By the 1940s, Tubb had found a style of his own. In order to be heard over the din of the honky-tonks, the Tubb's Texas Troubadours were one of the first hillbilly bands to add electric guitars.
Tubb disliked the term "hillbilly" and was instrumental in getting Billboard to change the name of the popularity chart to "country." Another of Tubb's legacies is the Midnight Jamboree, a live radio broadcast that showcases new talent from the original Tubb store in Nashville. It still airs following the Grand Ole Opry.
Tubb lived in a neighborhood in north Fort Worth, not far from where the record store is today, when he recorded "Walkin' the Floor Over You," his greatest hit. In 1942, Tubb would have known the current site of his record store as the sheep and hog pens of the Armour and Swift Stockyards. The record store opened in 1993 and is part of the renovation of the area off of North Main Street.
The first Ernest Tubb Record Shop opened in 1947. There are now three other locations in Nashville, one in Branson, Missouri, and one in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The shop's mail-order catalog is still a large portion of the company's business (800/229-4288).
Ernest Tubb was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1965 and died
in 1984. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop is at 140 E. Exchange in the back of the
complex of shops and restaurants in the stockyards across the tracks from the
Tarantula steam train's station. The store is open Monday-Friday,
10am-6pm; Saturday, 10am-8pm; and
Sunday, noon-6pm. For more information, call 817/624-8449.
Coming up this weekend...
Janis Joplin Birthday Bash in Port Arthur honors all Gulf Coast musicians and includes the annual inductions into the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame, Jan. 18. 800/887-7822.
Southwestern Exposition, Rodeo, & Livestock Show in Fort Worth is the oldest indoor rodeo in the world and offers loads of fun, Jan. 17-Feb. 2. 817/887/2420.
River Walk Bottom Festival and Mud Parade in San Antonio makes light of a gloomy situation when the river is drained for maintenance, Jan 20-26. 210/227-4262.
Cowboy Concerts every Sunday at 2pm in the Fort Worth Stockyards across the railroad tracks from the Ernest Tubb Record Store. 817/366-9675.
Day Trips, Vol.1, a book of the first 100 day trips from this column, updated and expanded, is available for $6.95, plus $3.05 for shipping and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, 1712 E. Riverside Dr., Box 156, Austin, TX 78741.